Don’t worry - it prob­a­bly won’t hap­pen

Nearly two decades ago there was only one thing on peo­ple’s minds as new cal­en­dars re­placed the old on walls and desks. Who re­mem­bers the Y2K phe­nom­e­non?, asks DAVE SA­VIDES

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO OPINION -

WHAT­EVER it is that’s giv­ing you sleep­less nights and panic at­tacks as we en­ter 2019, chances are that it won’t hap­pen.

That’s the re­al­ity, based on cen­turies of prophe­cies of doom and gloom from ev­ery sphere of hu­man ex­is­tence.

And what’s true on a univer­sal level is also likely to be true on a per­sonal level.

Af­ter all, who can re­mem­ber what it was you were wor­ry­ing about this time last year?

I guess there are rea­sons for our fears, among them the fact that: a) we are gullible, and b) we tend to be­lieve every­thing the ex­perts tell us – es­pe­cially if they are peo­ple from the realm of science.

Here are just a few of the things they have got wrong over the years:

• Life ex­pectancy was pre­dicted to drop to 42 years of age by the year 1980. In­stead, old bul­lets like my­self, Lord will­ing, are highly likely to live long be­yond our prover­bial ‘three­score years and ten’;

• By now, the hu­man race should have been ex­tinct as a re­sult of air pol­lu­tion, mass star­va­tion or any num­ber of other causes. Rather than that, we have un­prece­dented over-pop­u­la­tion;

• Crude oil re­serves should have been to­tally de­pleted long ago. They are still the great­est fuel for war­mon­gers;

• We were meant to have been head­ing for an ice age by 2000, since air pol­lu­tion was cal­cu­lated to halve the amount of sun­light and warmth reach­ing earth. Ha! Tell that to the ris­ing oceans;

• Avian flu, it was fore­cast by an em­i­nent WHO au­thor­ity, would kill over 150 mil­lion peo­ple. It ac­tu­ally killed fewer than 500;

• Of course, the great­est of mis­cal­cu­la­tions per­tain to ‘end of the world’ prophe­cies, whether it be by sci­en­tists (align­ment of plants, me­te­ors and so on) or ‘re­li­gion­ists’ (I hes­i­tate to call them the­olo­gians). I worked with peo­ple who lit­er­ally gave away all their pos­ses­sions, be­liev­ing the world would end on a cer­tain date. Not that their be­liefs were one bit dented when the day passed un­event­fully.

But surely, the biggest hoax ever played on mankind was the Y2K scare. Or was it?

For the younger gen­er­a­tion, this re­lated to the change from the year 1999 to the year 2000.

Also known as the ‘mil­len­nium bug’, it was be­lieved all com­put­ers – or any other tech­nol­ogy that con­tained a mi­crochip – would fail be­cause years were pro­grammed only ac­cord­ing to the last two dig­its, and so 2000 would be in­ter­preted as 1900.

This would cause havoc: air­craft would fall from the skies, el­e­va­tors would not func­tion, water and elec­tric­ity sup­plies would fail, trans­port would be grid­locked, med­i­cal equip­ment would shut down in ICU’s, etc, etc.

To say the pub­lic freaked out is an un­der­state­ment.

So too did gov­ern­ments and large cor­po­ra­tions and bil­lions were spent ren­der­ing equip­ment, es­pe­cially main­frame com­put­ers, ‘Y2K proof’.

Peo­ple even built bunkers and stocked up on food, as dur­ing a war sit­u­a­tion.

And so we waited in an­tic­i­pa­tion as the clock struck mid­night on 31 De­cem­ber 1999.

Noth­ing hap­pened. Not even a hint of chaos.

Was this the re­sult of the pre­cau­tions taken?

Or was it that an over-ex­ag­ger­ated scare fed by the mas­sive com­puter in­dus­try had conned the world into trans­fer­ring tril­lions of rands into its ac­counts?

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